A Memorial Day Poem

Carrie MasonI am sharing a poem with you this week written by Mrs. Carrie Mason which appeared in the Marblehead Messenger in 1872.  It was read by Miss Mary Barrett at the G.A.R. fair that was held  at Allerton Hall in Marblehead. 

Caroline Atherton Briggs was the youngest daughter of Dr. Calvin Briggs who was a prominent physician in Marblehead.  Caroline was born July 27, 1823 in Marblehead where she lived until her father died in 1852.  The family moved to Fitchburg, MA  where she met and married Charles Mason, a lawyer.  They were married on August 9, 1853 and had one son Atherton Perry Mason who was born in 1856.  Caroline graduated from Bradford Academy in MA in 1844.  She began writing poems at a young age and for several years she was a regular contributor to the Salem Register under the pen name “Caro.” One of her more well known poems was “Do They Miss Me At Home.”  Many of her poems became hymns in the Unitarian Church.  Caroline died from melancholia  on June 13, 1890 at what was the Worcester Insane Asylum and is buried at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Fitchburg, MA.

Here is her poem on Marblehead:

Marblehead Forever


Old Marblehead Forever, of course she was the first

To rally, when the cry, “to arms!” through all the nation burst,

She never yet has been behind, deny or prove it still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


A queer old place, but every stone that trips you in her streets,

Is instinct with the loyal pulse that in its bosom beats.

This may be a metaphor, it is, but true as gospel still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


The dear old town, it rises now before me, quaint and gray;

I see the hurried ranks go forth, as in the olden day;

First in the fight, to help the right; impetuous, headstrong still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


So Marblehead Forever, God Bless the dear old town,

She’ll never shame her goodly name, her name of old renown,

And, shirk who may, she’ll have her say, in spite of treason still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


Her daughters rise and bless her, her sons go forth to save,

Their country’s honor and her cause, or find a martyr’s grave,

For though the heaven should fall, they’d keep this old flag waving still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


Then Marblehead Forever, and give her three time three,

First in the fight, to help the right, and first she’ll always be,

Come life, come death, she’ll keep, unstained her ancient honor still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


Memorial Day

Dan Dixey photo OKO's 1966

Hat’s Off!

Along the street there comes a blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,

A flash of color beneath the sky:

Hat’s off!

The flag is passing by!! 

This is one of the lines of the poem “The Flag Goes By” which we memorized and recited at the Memorial Day Celebration at the Gerry School Playground in Marblehead. Every year each school in town held Memorial Day Services. I believe we learned this one in Mrs. Roller’s third grade class. As I remember we had to really blare out, “Hat’s Off.”  Every year chairs were set up on the playground and we sat with our class, reciting our poems and singing patriotic songs as our parents watched us. We probably wore a patriotic outfit complete with a white cardigan sweater.  I think one year we played a patriotic number on our song flutes. At the junior and senior high school American Legion Awards were given out to a student at both schools. Students were recognized for their scholarship, leadership and character and were presented Legion pins and plaques and their names were inscribed on permanent plaques within the schools.  Any of you readers receive the award?

Memorial Day  Sea Scouts

Memorial Day was always quite a celebration in Marblehead; they seemed to have a love for parades. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself this year as the holiday in 1956 was very rainy but the parades went on, no matter what the weather. Every year there is a chief marshall of the parade and in 1956 it was Vernon S. Sanborn, commander of Clarence Bartol U.S. W. V. The parade was made up of 5 or 6 divisions in those days with lots of marching bands.  Members of the parade included the town dignitaries, Clergyman, National Guard, all the Veteran Organizations in town and their auxiliaries, the Scouts including the Sea Scouts who that year were led by Donald E. Sweet, Gold Star Mothers, and marching bands including the OKO’s with their bagpipes.  That year Lt. George Girard headed up the police delegation which led the parade.

High School Band Memorial Day
High School Band  1960’s

The parade would start at Town House Square and proceeded down to the wharf where there would be a wreath ceremony.  They would then march back up State Street to Washington and up the one way street on Pleasant Street to School to Essex and stop at Memorial Park.  There another ceremony would be held.  It was here that the Scouts in town would join the parade and continue up Spring Street to Elm to Creesey to Green to Turner Road and into Waterside Cemetery to the Grand Army Lot for more exercises. Following the exercises the procession would re-form and proceed out of the cemetery to Turner Road to Green Street to Mugford to the Town House where the flag would be raised to full staff and then dismissed.

Memorial Day Eliza's
At Great Aunt Eliza’s on Memorial Day 1965     The family waiting for me to pass by in the parade in my Girl Scout attire.

 My family always had a great place to watch the parade at my Great Aunt Mary Eliza Foss Phillip’s house, who lived right next to the Powder House. We would gather on the lawn and watch the parade both going to the cemetery and returning back.   When I was a girl scout everyone would wave when we went by.  My mother remembers when she was a girl scout “ one year it was so cold marching that Aunt Eliza came out with a pair of mittens for her.”  I bet they were homemade white wool ones.  Back in the ‘60’s we had to dress in our complete Girl Scout uniforms including white gloves in order to march in the parade.  We also had to stay in formation and actually march!

Me Girl Scout
All decked out in my Girl Scout Uniform



What are your Memorial Day memories? Besides the parade I think of lilacs. It seems the lilacs were always in bloom for the parade and now they seem to bloom much earlier.



Thank you to Dan Dixey for the use of his color photos of the parade from 1965 – 1966.

Green Street Playground Part II Joel Warren Reynolds 1876 -1931

Joel Warren Reynolds
Joel W. Reynolds


It was voted at the 1932 Marblehead Town Meeting to rename Green Street Playground to the Joel W. Reynolds Playground. It was also decided at the same town meeting to make this the playground where the high school athletic teams would play their games. Joel was a great athlete in Marblehead who passed away in 1931. He was also my third cousin 3 times removed in my Smith line. My fifth great grandfather, Joel Smith was the 2nd great grandfather of Joel W. Reynolds.  

He was born in Marblehead on February 22, 1876 to the Hon. William Reynolds and Elizabeth Allen Magoun. He attended Marblehead High School but did not graduate from there; instead he passed the entrance exams and went straight to school at Bridgewater Normal School. (Normal Schools were schools created to train teachers.) He was the fastest runner at Bridgewater and also pitched on the school baseball team.  After graduating from Bridgewater he was employed as a teacher in the State Normal School at Castine, ME where he taught successfully for six years, at the end of each year he was promoted and given a pay increase. In 1901 after receiving great recommendations from both the principal and the superintendent in Castine, he was appointed principal of the Marblehead High School.

Joel was married on October 21, 1897 in Marblehead to Carrie Gertrude Shepard, known as Gertrude. She was the daughter of William H. Shepard and Carrie Goodwin, born on March 13, 1878 and she passed away on June 26, 1958. She graduated from Wheaton College and was the first female graduate student at MIT. They had 5 children born in Marblehead:

  • Morrill Shepard Reynolds   May 15, 1898 – 1984. He married Theresa Gill in 1925.
  • Joel Warren Reynolds, Jr.   July 22, 1901 – 1979. He married Marion Newhall.
  • William Hooper Reynolds   July 22, 1901 – 1973. He was single and an English professor.
  • Carolyn Edith Reynolds       February 21, 1905 – 1997. She married Ralph H. Morse in 1934.
  • Margaret R. Reynolds         March 8, 1907 – 2004. She married Arba Swain Taylor in 1942.
Joel Reynolds and wife edited
Joel and Gertrude


Joel continued to play baseball for various teams in the North Shore Baseball League. In the Marblehead Messenger of August 26, 1904 there was an article about his athletic career:

            “Joel W. Reynolds, now playing right field for the Lynn Association Nine, was born in Marblehead and is the principal of the high school there.  Everybody recommends Joe as being a perfect gentleman; he is popular and a favorite on the team.  In Marblehead he was known as the town’s fastest baseball product.  He was also an excellent runner.  At a State track meet held in Taunton he won two trophies for running, one for the 100 yard dash which he did in 10. 2-5 seconds and the 50 yard dash in 5. 3-4 seconds.  His first real baseball work was the North Shore teams of several years ago, where he pitched some fine ball. At that time the North Shore Athletic Club had the strongest semi-professional team in the area.  Joe had retired from the diamond to devote his time to his school work, but his friends in Marblehead insisted he play and that he did in the Young Men’s Temperance Team of Marblehead.  The Lynn team scouted him and asked him to play short stop and then right field for their team.”  

Joel also learned to play tennis, playing at the Outing Park which was located next to Seaside Park. This park was run by the YMCA and there were four tennis courts. Joel was one of the star players of the Robinson Farm tennis club, of which he was one of the founders.

It seems that sports and teaching were not his only talents. In an article in the Boston Herald on March 27, 1921 there was an article about his fad and hobby of raising tomatoes.  At that time he was the sub-master at the George W. Putnam School in Roxbury. At his home on Prospect Street in Marblehead he raised 30 varieties of tomatoes.  He raised some tomatoes that grew in clusters like grapes, some shaped like pears and others like peaches.  He obtained the seeds from a chef of a large hotel in the area.  It was said that his wife “had to purchase green tomatoes if she wanted them for pickling as her husband produces nothing but ripe ones and so early that the supply is exhausted by the time the pickling season starts.”  In 1925 he was elected Janitor of the Tomato Club in town and was served a luncheon on his birthday at the club by Dick Phillips

Joel W. Reynolds passed away October 16, 1931 at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He was the sub-master of the Theodore Roosevelt School in Boston at the time. Few of the boys at the school knew he was a famous baseball player in the early 1900’s in Lynn and Marblehead in the New England League.  According to the columnist Tom McCabe “he was a pioneer in playground work and did much to build up the spirit that now prevails in this work. Boston was the first municipality to recognize the value of a playground for its school children.  The way boys looked up to him and followed his advice did much good, and many successful business men today in Greater Boston owes his sane view of things to the way he was taught to play by ‘Jo’, as the boys loved to call him.”

Along with being the Principal in Marblehead he was also a Selectman in 1914 and was on the School Committee in Marblehead from 1912 to 1920 and was voted Chairman. He was also a member of the Abbot Public Library trustees from 1906 – 1921. He also served on the Green Street Playground Committee and was on the committee to design the town seal. His funeral was held at the Unitarian Church and he is buried in Waterside Cemetery. There was a fine tribute in the Marblehead Messenger on Friday, October 23, 1931 about his great accomplishments:

            “He was not only a teacher but also a companion.” When he first went to Boston to teach at the Wendell Phillips School in the West End he taught young boys raised in the city where they had taught to be suspicious of newcomers. All their barriers went down when they met Mr. Reynolds and they organized “The Joel W. Reynolds Boys Club” in the West End Settlement House and a banquet was held in his honor.  He also served as principal of the Eliot Evening Program, and as Supervisor of Playgrounds.

When World War I broke out he was 42 years old, but he took the examination for the United States Marines, passed and was ready to join the army, but decided to continue his teaching and family duties.

I will leave you with this letter that was printed in the Marblehead Messenger October 23, 1931 which was sent to him from a former student, while Joel was in the hospital.

            “Hurry up and get well. Marblehead needs you, with your kindly smile, warm and friendly way, and big heart. There aren’t enough folks like you in this world. What an infinitely more pleasant place this world would be to live in if more of us had the blessed gift of your sunny, sympathetic personality! You were my first school teacher and I shall never forget the charm and brotherliness of the atmosphere which surrounded you in old Marblehead High School. Everyone in the school looked on you as a big brother and friend – not as just a high school principal. I envy you the rich treasures of deep and abiding friendship that you have accumulated for yourself during your useful, self-sacrificing, cheery life. As I get older, the more strongly I am convinced that, after all, what really counts in this world is happiness, contentment and friends. The one who possess these is rich and successful no matter what his financial or social status. And all these things you have in glorious measure.” 

I want to thank Jennifer Wach Hickey, Joel’s great granddaughter for letting me use these photos of her great grandparents in this blog.

Green Street Playground – Marblehead, MA Part I


Cows at Green Street  edited copy

“Green Street Playground”, my 5.45 acre retreat located off of Green and Lime Street in Marblehead, MA.  I spent a large portion of my life there, from the time I was probably eight or nine until my late thirties.  My mother was probably tired of hearing “Ma, I’m going down to Green Street.”  I used to be able to walk through the woods from my house on Peach Highlands over to Green Street, this was before Intrepid Way and Hoods Foam were around.  High on top of the hill were swings and other play equipment, but the best part was the huge ledge we would climb on to get there. I am sure they would be required to have some sort of fence around the play equipment for safety reasons in this day and age. There was a path to the top but climbing the rocks was more fun.  We would sit on the rocks and watch the goings on in the park, but I can attest that were a lot of biting red ants on those rocks. There was also a basketball court next to that. If I got bored at home I would take my bat and ball and head to Green Street where there were always kids to put together a team for a game of ball, or even an apple fight.

The playing field is where I spent most of my time. It began when I was 8 or 9 and I went to Park League for half a day in the summer.  Here we played countless games of kickball, arts and crafts and made things with gimp. We didn’t have juice boxes or water bottles; we drank straight from the rusty old bubbler if we were thirsty.  Then I moved on to Lassie League softball for several years and Green Street was where we practiced and played our games.  If it rained hard we could be sure we would either be playing in knee deep wet grass, third base would be under water or our games would be postponed until the field dried out.

Lassie League Jacket
My Lassie League Jacket from the 1960’s

When I got older and could stay our after the street lights were on, my friends and I would sit on the rock on the Green Street side of the playground and watch the women and men play softball in their respected leagues.  We longed to play on the women’s team but we were too young.  I would be in my room doing my homework and see that the lights were on at the park and I knew there as a game going on and off I would go. In the day of Hartley’s and Carlson Real Estate Men’s league, my friend, Wendy Wright Bridgeo  and I would get to sit on the team bench and keep the lineup and scorebook for the men’s game, that was an honor. Didn’t we think we were something to be able to sit with the college boys and watch and score the games.  I finally got to be the age to play in the women’s league and it had disbanned;  but a new one was formed when I was in my mid-twenties and once again I was at the park.  If we weren’t playing our own game that night you could be sure there would be a crowd of players and spectators down there watching the games, sitting on the rocks.  We often thought it would be a good idea to pad those rocks; it got awfully uncomfortable sitting there night after night.


This area of land was located behind 11 Green Street which happened to be owned by my Martin Ancestors. I didn’t know at the time that this land actually belonged to my family; I guess I just never thought about that stuff back then. When I was growing up the house was owned by Edith Cressy Martin Ball and William Ball, the white house next to Mullen’s store. The house was originally built in 1795 and is still standing today.

Martin Ball House copy copy

 In 1835 the Blanchard family sold the 16 acre farm to Joseph Martin, my third great grandfather, who operated a dairy farm there.  In the fall of 1925 the National Park and Playground Representatives visited Marblehead gathering statistics and determined that Marblehead needed more parks within the closely built up areas in the town.  It was their opinion that parks added beauty and dignity to any locality.  It was in December 1925 that Stephen C., Knott V. and Martha A. Martin offered to give the Town of Marblehead the option to purchase about 91,409 square feet of land at the rate of 4.765 cents per square foot making it to be about $4,356.00.  They also stipulated that there should be a right of way granted for horse drawn vehicles or automobiles.  The town took them up on their offer and purchased the land.  I am glad they did as I have many great memories of the park.

The park was known as Green Street Playground until 1932 when it was renamed the Joel Warren Reynolds Park, also a relative of mine.     To be continued next week …..